ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Like an orange swarm, No. 1 Syracuse seemed to be everywhere Sunday.
Coach Jim Boeheim's long-armed and deep team used its lockdown defense and balanced scoring to rout DePaul 87-68 for a 15-0 start.
With 7-foot Fab Melo altering numerous shots and blocking six others, the Orange took control in the first half, built a 19-point lead and then coasted.
''Our defense was really good in the first half and that was the game,'' Boeheim said. ''The second half was just trading baskets.''
Kris Joseph, scoreless in his previous game, a victory over Seton Hall to open Big East play, had 22 points Sunday night as the Orange (15-0, 2-0 Big East) got their fast break going and consistently drove for layups.
C.J. Fair added 16 points, Dion Waiters had 13 and Melo scored 12.
''The reason we shot 58 percent means we got a lot of layups,'' Boeheim said. ''We got a lot of easy baskets.''
Syracuse opened 18-0 last season and the Orange's best start under Boeheim was 19 straight wins to kick off 1999-2000.
''We've got a lot of difficult games ahead, particularly at the end of the year and those are the teams you have to beat,'' Boeheim said. ''We haven't proven anything yet. We've beaten people we probably should have beaten. That's good. ... But the tough part of our schedule is coming up.''
But no matter the opponent, they will have to contend with a team that loses little when it substitutes, one that shares the ball and plays a confining 2-3 defense.
''You can practice against the 2-3 as much as you want. ... Our whole focus is defense,'' Waiters said. ''At the end of the day you still have to play against it no matter how much you prepared for it.''
DePaul (9-4, 0-1) had its five-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 3-18 all-time facing No. 1-ranked teams. Cleveland Melvin led the Blue Demons with 23 points.
''They're as good defensively as any Syracuse team I've seen,'' DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. ''They shot too many layups. ... Every time we tried to make a move, it was a turnover that led to a layup.''
Syracuse held DePaul to 30.8 shooting in the first half - 0 for 8 on 3-pointers - and blocked five shots, three by Melo. The Orange shot 65.5 percent and had a 19-9 rebounding edge in opening a 45-26 lead.
Playing its first game since Dec. 21, DePaul chopped the lead to 16 midway through the second half but could never make a serious run. When Melo's block led a runout and Syracuse pushed the lead to 85-57 with about 4 minutes left, some of the crowd at the Allstate Arena started to head for the exits.
''He blocked some and he altered some,'' Boeheim said of Melo. ''He's very good in the paint, he's gotten better, obviously one of the most improved players I've seen in a long time. And he affects the game.''
A 15-2 run featuring Joseph's slam on a fastbreak pass from Brandon Triche gave the Orange a 17-9 lead.
Eight points from Melvin kept the Blue Demons close. Joseph hit a 3-pointer and two free throws and another 3-pointer and drive by James Southerland put the Orange up 11 points with about 7 minutes left in the half.
When Scoop Jardine and Waiters drove strong to the basket for layups, the Orange had run off nine straight points for a 33-18 lead.
The high-leaping left-handed Fair hit two straight baskets from in close and Michael Carter-Williams' steal and layup pushed the lead to 19 with just under 2 minutes left in the opening half. Joseph's jumper made it a 21-point lead
DePaul tried some trapping fullcourt defenses but after a couple of early Syracuse turnovers did little to stop the Orange.
DePaul shot 40 percent for the game to 58.6 percent for Syracuse.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sports & Recreation/Basketball
- Jim Boeheim